- "There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
- He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
- He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
- And they all lived together in a little crooked house"
It was approaching midnight and James had not budged from his seat by the fire, dressed in his fine suit he was the very image of a Victorian gentleman - yet his eyes betrayed a madness born from knowledge of things no man should know.
Staring into the flames James began to see strange, alien figures dancing and the last of his sanity began to sink away - however before the strange figures in the flame could whisper to him a presence entered the room, breaking the spell of the flame as James at long last took his eyes off the fire and looked towards the visitor.
The clock struck midnight and played its tune as a tall gentleman with a crooked top hat made his way over to James, his thin frame supported by a decorative walking cane and his features blurred by James' own fading mind, as if trying to put detail to a figure found in a hazy dream.
As the figure moved forward a small dormouse scurried around on the floor, darting around the gentleman's feet without fear and seeming to chitter as if laughing - the figure finally coming to a stop by James.
"Four days and four nights.. yet still you haunt me.." James finally said, looking at the tall figure.
"..tell me, Crooked Man.. why do you prey on me so? I have done no harm.. all I did was read a simply rhyme.. a child's story.." James continued.
"You are no child, James, you are far too old to be reading fairy tales.. besides, you are not as harmless as you think.. you are a full-grown man who still believes in the nursery rhymes his grandmother taught him.. don't you see what that makes you?" the tall figure replied.
"Enough with your riddles and lies.. I will be vexed no longer - tell me what makes me so dangerous to you, tell me what justifies your intrusion upon my life.. you and your wicked kin.. the fox.. the hound.. the cat and the spoon.. what does it all mean?" James snapped, growing angry and afraid.
"Ah, James - you must ask such a simple thing? the fox chases the hound.. the cat does dance with the spoon.. an old gentleman demands answers from a ghost at midnight.. what does it mean? well.. my boy.. the answer comes from a child's book.. one you may of read by now.." the tall figure said.
James looked ready to respond when the tall figure removed his top hat, revealing a wide grin from ear to ear and eyes that made James freeze - the room seeming to spin as characters from innumerable nursery rhymes, fairy tales and nonsense stories came and went like spectres as the figure spoke:
"You're mad.. I'm mad.."
"..we're all mad here.."